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Self Reliance Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882. Emerson's Early Life Ralph Waldo Emerson was born on May 25th, 1803 right here in Boston. He was the fourth.

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Presentation on theme: "Self Reliance Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882. Emerson's Early Life Ralph Waldo Emerson was born on May 25th, 1803 right here in Boston. He was the fourth."— Presentation transcript:

1 Self Reliance Ralph Waldo Emerson

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3 Emerson's Early Life Ralph Waldo Emerson was born on May 25th, 1803 right here in Boston. He was the fourth out of eight children, and at the age of eight, his father died. This resulted in severe poverty for Emerson, and on some days the family would have nothing to eat. Although he was poor, his social status and family history led him to attend Harvard at the age of 14. At Harvard, he kept a journal with him at all times, which he would not only write in, but also draw pictures and illustrations because he desired to be a painter He graduated college at 18, and with the pressure of his Aunt Mary to become a minister, he attended Harvard Divinity School.

4 Emerson's Early Life Cont He fell ill in fall of 1826, and moved to South Carolina and started preaching In 1829, he became the associate minister at the Second church in Boston, and in the same year he married Ellen Louisa Tucker. The next year, Emerson became the full minister and rather than preaching from the biblical texts, he used some of his own ideas to spice up the presentations. After the death of his wife in 1831, Emerson resigned as minister because he started doubting God and started his tour in Europe, where he wrote about his affairs in "English Traits."

5 His Works Nature (1836): Transcendentalist and very "American" ideas.The ideas were so radical at the time, that Emerson originally published it anonymously. Self-Reliance (1841): The need for the individual to avoid conformity, to have original ideas, and to avoid false consistency. His ideas were very new at the time. Over-soul (1841): All humans are connected through a "universal" soul. People must transcend themselves to understand and accept views of the world. The American Scholar (1837): Delivered this speech to the Phi Beta Kappa Society oration at Harvard in The address praised individualism and humanized Jesus. Emerson's ideas were very controversial at the time because they went against Christian orthodox ideas. He wasn't invited back to Harvard for another 30 years.

6 Lyceum System of lecturing that developed in the 1920's and 1930's Local lecture clubs paid for speakers to come, Emerson among them Spoke about non-traditional ideas and sometimes baffled his listeners Offered lecturing courses once he became popular These lectures grew into essays and books which he published often beginning in the 1840s Made a respectable salary from lecturing

7 Style of “Self Reliance” Rationalist ArgumentRationalist Argument Essay is a carefully constructed rational argument with goal of persuading readers to adopt ideas Emerson promotes.Essay is a carefully constructed rational argument with goal of persuading readers to adopt ideas Emerson promotes. Author uses logic, reasons, facts, and examples to support his position.Author uses logic, reasons, facts, and examples to support his position. Emerson organizes his ideas so that they lead readers step by step to the conclusion he wishes them to reach.Emerson organizes his ideas so that they lead readers step by step to the conclusion he wishes them to reach. He begins by defining genius and explains why he believes every human being possesses it. He goes on to explain how and why this genius is to be expressed –the expression of that inborn genius is the essence of self reliance.He begins by defining genius and explains why he believes every human being possesses it. He goes on to explain how and why this genius is to be expressed –the expression of that inborn genius is the essence of self reliance.

8 Emotional Appeal Emerson’s tight rational argument is complemented by energetic and passionate language that appeals to readers’ emotions. Emerson’s tight rational argument is complemented by energetic and passionate language that appeals to readers’ emotions. He uses the effective technique of using images from nature. He uses the effective technique of using images from nature.

9 References to Persons and Literature “Self-Reliance” is studded with a multitude of references to famous men and well-known literature. “Self-Reliance” is studded with a multitude of references to famous men and well-known literature. Men mentioned are held up as examples of self-reliance and of the greatness it brings. Men mentioned are held up as examples of self-reliance and of the greatness it brings. There are several biblical references. There are several biblical references.

10 Themes and Style in Self-Reliance  Individualism Nonconformist Childhood Innocence Bold Youth Inconsistency Believe in yourself Believe in your own convictions Self-Helping Man No outside help  Nature Human Nature (soul, spirit, etc.) Nature (plants, sea, etc.)

11 Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self- Reliance (1841) Main Points  Self reliance can be defined as the bringing into the light one’s inner views on what is true and meaningful, and in the process enriching an entire community through diversity. “ The power which resided in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he tries.” Emerson calls for greater self-reliance, “a new respect for the divinity in man,” bringing “revolutionary” change in all relations – religion and prayer, education and literature, pursuits, modes of living, property and views, and associations. In Emerson’s time, America still looked to Europe for its art, architecture, literature, instead of developing it’s own. He believed that by adopting the talent of another, one could only claim only half possession. He was critical of Americans for not using their God-given individuality to become more than mere imitators

12 Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self- Reliance Main Points  True happiness and fulfillment can only come through a recognition of one’s own uniqueness, talent and effort. Envy is ignorance; imitation is suicide. It’s only when a person puts his heart into his work and does his best that he is truly happy and at peace. Do not be ashamed to speak your unique thoughts, “divine idea[s]” rather than quoting the words of some former “saint or sage”. Roses do not make reference to former roses, but “exist [perfectly] with God today.” Actions should be genuine, honest and natural. Don’t be afraid of being inconsistent -- genuine action will explain itself over time, just as the zigzag path of a ship’s voyage seen over a distance straightens itself.

13 Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self- Reliance Main Points  Truth comes from within and lies beyond or “transcends” the knowledge we obtain from our senses. Trust in the truth, in your intuition. Accept your place in the world and do not cower in a corner, hemmed in by conformity. Be a nonconformist. An infant conforms to no one. The world conforms to it. Do not give to causes that you do not believe in, just because you feel society expects it. Trust yourself. There will be those who think they know your duty better than you do. Trust yourself. Do not be concerned about what others think. Trust that you have the innate wisdom from God within. Become intuitive and in touch with yourself. “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.”

14 Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self- Reliance Main Points  Emerson advocates independence not only of thought but also of action. Society continually changes, do not let these changes encumber your virtue. When a man builds a coach, he loses the use of his feet. If one uses crutches, he loses muscle support. He wears a watch and forgets how to tell time by the sun. Emerson believed that reliance on property and the government to protect it was a lack in self-reliance. Men have looked away from themselves at things too long and now measure each other by what he has not by what he is. Emerson describes dependence on foreign goods as leading to a “slavish respect for numbers.” Emerson recognized men’s gamble with Fortune, gaining and losing all, but concludes that nothing can bring you peace but yourself

15 Literary Focus: Figures of Speech “ Self-Reliance” is an essay that includes some striking figures of speech.“ Self-Reliance” is an essay that includes some striking figures of speech. Figures of Speech are based on unusual comparisons Figures of Speech are based on unusual comparisons They are not meant to be taken literally. They are not meant to be taken literally. For example: When Emerson says “Society is a joint-stock company,” he is comparing society to a business. For example: When Emerson says “Society is a joint-stock company,” he is comparing society to a business. In a joint-stock company, all of the owners share the company’s profits and losses equally. In a joint-stock company, all of the owners share the company’s profits and losses equally. Emerson’s comparison points out that society is interested in money and success. Emerson’s comparison points out that society is interested in money and success. Figures of speech include similes, metaphors, and personification. Figures of speech include similes, metaphors, and personification.

16 Romanticism Emerson is considered an American icon of Romanticism. Emerson is considered an American icon of Romanticism. Emerson’s philosophy as expressed in “Self-Reliance” largely overlaps the ideas of romanticism, which include the inherent worth of the individual, the importance of personal freedom from religious and social restrictions, and the divinity of nature Emerson’s philosophy as expressed in “Self-Reliance” largely overlaps the ideas of romanticism, which include the inherent worth of the individual, the importance of personal freedom from religious and social restrictions, and the divinity of nature

17 Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self- Reliance Historical Significance Self-Reliance [1841], had a great impact on Emerson’s society, becoming his most well-known essay. Self-Reliance, together with Nature, established Emerson as a writer and lecturer. He became regarded as the founder of the Transcendental movement, a distinctly American philosophy emphasizing optimism, individuality, and mysticism. He was one of the most influential literary figures of the nineteenth century. As a result of the new philosophy introduced in Self-Reliance, America developed literature and art uniquely different from any other country in the world and established for the first time America’s place in the world of art and literature. Emerson, through his writing of Self-Reliance, had an impact on future generations also. He became an inspiration to such writers as Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau. Today, portions of Self-Reliance have been so quoted that many are now cliché. The philosophy of individual independence has, to some extent, become the American way. Self-Reliance had a significant impact not only on American writers and artists, but also on Unitarians and the liberally religious opening them to science, Eastern religions and a naturalistic mysticism. In addition to group impact, Self-Reliance, had an impact on the individual American, inspiring him to listen to and heed the still, small voice of God within. The impact of Self-Reliance and the subsequent Transcendental movement was one of supreme importance extending a challenge to Americans to use their God-given talents for the betterment of the individual and thus the community. It proved to be a positive, lasting, truly American change.

18 The Transcendental View Everything in the world, including human beings, is a reflection of the Divine Soul. The physical facts of the natural world are a doorway to the spiritual or ideal world. People can use their intuition to behold God’s spirit revealed in nature or in their own souls Self- reliance and individualism must outweigh external authority and blind conformity to custom and tradition. Spontaneous feelings and intuition are superior to deliberate intellectualism and rationality

19 Transcendentalism was based partly on the philosophy of Idealism, which dated back to ancient Greece. It was based also on the ideas of American thinkers ranging from the Puritans to the nineteenth-century Romantics. Transcendentalists viewed nature as a doorway to a mystical world holding important truths.

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21 Timeline Emerson was born in Boston, Massachusetts. 1821: graduated from Harvard College. 1825: Went to Harvard Divinity School. 1829: Ordained as a junior pastor of Boston’s Second Church 1829: Married first wife, Ellen Louisa Tucker. 1831: His wife Ellen died. 1832: Set out on a European tour. 1833: Gave his first public lecture. 1835: Remarried to Lydia Jackson. 1836: Published “Nature”, Led the foundation of “Transcendental Club” 1837:Delivered his now-famous Phi Beta Kappa address, “The American Scholar”, befriended Henry David Thoreau, beginning of his career as a lecturer 1841: Published “Essays”, his second book. 1842: Releasedthe poem “Threnody” and the essay “Experience” in the memory of his dead son. 1844:Published his second collection of essays, “EssaysSecond Series”. 1857: Wrote “English Traits” 1860: Published “The Conduct of Life”, his final original collection of essays. 1862:Visited Washington D.C. and gave a lecture at the Smithsonian 1882: Died in Concord, Massachusetts

22 Thank you.. Dr.KALPANA PAUL DEPT. OF ENGLISH Presented by


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